Friday marks the last day of workshops as well as the last time that we as a group will be able to hear each other’s finished work.  There is a lot of scurrying around after an inspiring workshop with poet Clare Shaw, author of Head On and Straight Ahead, both published by Bloodaxe.   We did several exercises of free writing with triggers on subjects like home, packing, and saying goodbye.  Since our check out time is 11am tomorrow and we have an evening flight back to Ireland all of those subjects are surfacing in our consciousness.

I’ve shared a poem on what to pack for the Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank in a previous post.  Clare’s exercise on packing also had us look to what tangible and less tangible items we would be taking back to Ireland with us.


On a literal level my suitcase is on its last legs. It tends to tip skew-whiff at every curb and the handle takes a man to wrestle it in the up and down position its that sticky. I think this really will be it’s last big adventure.  I liked it. It’s grey so doesn’t show all the travel grubbiness.  I slapped on an ID sticker I was given at the Chamber St. Hall of Records on September 22, 2009 when I was doing some genealogical research in New York City.  The sticker with a grainy head shot of me makes it easily distinguishable on the baggage belt on arrival.

Of course, I both over and under-packed.  We traveled to a country of uncertain weather during the month when the weather seems to suffer from bipolar syndrome.  I had to buy two short sleeved t-shirts because it turned unexpectedly warm. I came with three books, passed a novel to the maid service and bought three more.I brought too many pens and herbal teabags.   I got tired of the tidgy teacups in the hotel and bought myself a mug. I decided that it was love and not just infatuation and bought a new handbag, which accomodates my mini-iPad perfectly and is teal blue. I weighed in at the airport at 12.5 kilos and have 7.5 to spare. I should be okay on the tangibles.

In our workshop today Clare Shaw told us that she admires poet Selima Hill who she has quoted as saying “All poetry is love poetry.” One of the themes that has been rattling around my brain for sometime is the Biblical injunction “Love casts out fear.”  With any kind of writing we make ourselves vulnerable. Clare asked the group to articulate all those things that hold us back from writing the truth as one sees, feels, tastes or hears it. It’s not just the inner critic.  It’s also that social constraint, “who do you think you are to call yourself a writer?!”  It reminds me of a Radio 4 programme in which Eavan Boland tells about writing workshops with women in Ireland.  She asked them if they would go home and tell people where they lived that they were writers.  A participant is alleged to have piped up, “Oh, no, they would think I was the kind of a woman who didn’t wash her curtains.”

I’ve arrived at an age where I don’t give a hang what you think about the state of my curtains.   So I guess I’m packing some attitude.

Bee Smith is travelling in March 2014 with the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme “Developing Creative Practice Across Borders” to Yorkshire and Lancashire organised by the Cavan Arts and the Social Inclusion Unit offices.

One thought on “Packing

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